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Philadelphia To Join Nationwide Reading-Improvement School Program

(From left:  Ralph Smith, managing director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; William Hite, Philadelphia schools superintendent; Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Urban Affairs League; and Mayor Michael Nutter.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(From left: Ralph Smith, managing director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; William Hite, Philadelphia schools superintendent; Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Urban Affairs League; and Mayor Michael Nutter. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is making plans to join a national campaign to get young students to read at grade level.

The goal is to have every city third-grader reading at grade level after six years.  In Philadelphia, only ten public schools have three-quarters of their students reading at grade level.

Mayor Nutter says that’s far from good enough.

“Not one single public, district-managed, or charter elementary school has 100 percent third grade on-grade proficiency level.  Not one.  We should be ashamed of ourselves,” he said today.

Over the next five months, 75 community agencies will use a $71,000 planning grant from the Barra Foundation to draw up a strategy to beef up early learning efforts, reduce absenteeism, and strengthen summer reading programs.

More than 140 communities have already joined the national “Campaign for Grade-Level Reading” effort.